Is this a conspiracy, a scandal or just an overactive imagination? New allegations from American Bandstand dancers accuse the late Dick Clark of conducting antigay witch hunts. But as soon as the interviews started circulating around the web, they abruptly vanished from their source.
Now, here’s where you may want to take it all with a grain of salt: that source was The National Enquirer. So, this might not be as rigorously fact-checked as, say, an article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer. (Then again, they were right about the John Edwards affair, so who knows.)
Here’s what we know: according to the Enquirer, “Clark had his aides comb Philadelphia’s gay hangouts – and if any of the show’s teens were discovered as being openly gay, the horrified host would banish them!”
But that doesn’t seem to be backed up by the actual interviews. The closest we get is this, from one of the dancers: “Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse square was known as a meeting place for homosexuals. If you were seen in the square, you couldn’t go on Bandstand. So most of us really stayed away.”
No mention of a horrified Clark, or stings by the producers. Maybe that’s why the interview has vanished from the Enquirer’s site? Or maybe they got too close to the truth, and someone’s threatening lawyers.
What’s more interesting to us is this:
“A high percentage of the popular ‘regulars’ were gay,” declares Brancaccio, now 72 years old and openly homosexual.
And another Bandstand regular, Eddie Kelly, confirms, “It’s true. now it’s out and it’s good. When I went to Bandstand in 1959, I found most of the males were gay, but that could never have gotten out to the public.”
An oral history of what it was like to be gay on Bandstand would be a fascinating read. Someone get on that, please.